World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim said that natural capital accounting should be “one important new tool in the global toolbox” to address climate change, poverty eradication and economic development at the initial session of the United Nation’s High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development on Sept. 24, 2013.

“As we made clear in Rio, the evidence is that green and inclusive growth is not only necessary and efficient, it is also affordable. But we need improved indicators to determine if growth is truly sustainable. We need measures of progress that go beyond GDP—measures that value the environment. Measures like Natural Capital Accounting,” said World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim at the opening session of the Forum.

Presidents, prime ministers, and other high‐ranking officials participated in the intergovernmental forum, established as an outcome of Rio+20 in June 2012, to continue to press for action on sustainable development at the highest levels.

The forum will conduct regular reviews, starting in 2016, on the follow-up and implementation of sustainable development commitments and objectives, including those related to the means of implementation, within the context of the post-2015 development agenda. This was the first meeting of the forum under the auspices of the General Assembly.

Kim said that although economic growth has lifted more than 660 million people out of poverty in the last 20 years, the gains have also left millions behind and come at a cost to the environment and economies. 

Natural Capital Accounting is a tool that can measure and value natural resources with all the services they provide—such as air and water filtration, flood protection, carbon storage, pollination for crops, and habitat for fisheries and wildlife.

“At Rio+20 we recognized that poverty eradication is the greatest global challenge facing the world today.  We made it clear that sustainable development is at the core of the struggle to end poverty. And we called for the integration of economic, social and environmental dimensions of sustainability into development, as a matter of urgency,” said Kim. “We have an opportunity to take this to the next level. We support a rapid convergence of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Post-2015 processes. These processes must lead to a single agenda with robust measures, improved indicators and financing strategies.”

Over 65 countries have declared their support to integrate the value of natural resources into development planning and national economic accounts. The World Bank Group is helping countries make that happen through the Wealth Accounting and Valuation of Ecosystem Services (WAVES) Global Partnership.

The WAVES partnership includes core-implementing countries such as Botswana, Colombia, Costa Rica, Madagascar, and the Philippines as well as new countries like Rwanda and Guatemala—and demand from other countries for WAVES’ support is growing.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon echoed the importance that legislators have access to the most current data: “We must strengthen the interface between science and policy, so that the latest scientific findings are reflected in our high-level policy discussions.”

Webcasts and presentations from the Forum can be found on the UN’s Sustainable Knowledge Platform website. The Forum will meet annually under the auspices of the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) and every four years under the auspices of the General Assembly.